COVID-19 vaccines are in distribution. Hotels and airlines are operating with new health and safety protocols. Destinations are opening their doors with clear guidelines. And if the gorgeous hotels and resorts filling my social media feed are any indication, there’s a great deal of pent up demand to get back on the road, or on the beach. Get ready for a comeback! Incentive travel is ramping up.
Incentive companies and corporate program owners reported that just 23% of programs operated in 2020, but the majority expect that the market will rebound within one to two years. The value of incentive travel is well-established and many companies are looking forward to the chance to gather with customers and top employees. That’s consistent with what we’re seeing here at Next Level. We’re busy quoting and booking programs for the second half of 2021 and beyond.
The recent Incentive Travel Industry Index, a joint study by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), SITE Foundation, and FICP had some interesting practical takeaways for incentive program owners thinking about restarting their programs:
Here at Next Level, we also think it’s important to consider event alternatives – just in case. For near term programs, if you experience a cancellation, be sure to communicate the change and to still reward top performing employees or customers. If you need help, give us a call. We can transition your program to a points platform in a matter of days and craft communications to make the experience seamless.
For programs later in the year, have a plan in place for those who cannot travel for medical or family reasons. Will you reward them with points or with a meaningful gift? Cash is not a recommended alternative. Research shows that it’s not as motivating or engaging, and is too easily mentally combined with compensation.
Need help restarting your program? Reach out to us and we’ll be glad to help.
As Vice President of Travel & Engagement at Next Level Performance, Susan serves on the board of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), and chairs the IRF Research Committee. She has also served on the board of the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and is a past president of the Recognition Council, and a past member of the Performance Improvement Council and the Incentive and Engagement Solution Providers (IESP). She is interested in the strategies and benefits of employee engagement, incentive, and recognition programs. An avid traveler, she is also passionate about the art and science of incentive travel.